Articles of faith are sometimes called a statement of faith or statement of belief or doctrinal statement and are used for organizations, churches, and sometimes individuals to summarize the important foundational beliefs to which they adhere. Most often, these statements include brief descriptions of the specific doctrine with Scripture references.
Articles of faith – What are they?
There are several summary statements regarding issues of faith in Bible. One of the earliest articles of faith is the "shema," as Jews call it, found in Deuteronomy 6:4–7. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17) are also part of the early articles of faith.
One New Testament article of faith is contained in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4: "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." Early Christians used this passage to describe the core of their beliefs.
Often, the rise of false teachers or heretical teachings within the church gave rise to the creation of creeds and articles of faith. Believers would gather, search the Scriptures, and then set forth the true, or orthodox, doctrines of the church. We see this occur in Acts 15:1–29 in the so-called Jerusalem Council. Similarly, the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and others came about due to challenges to orthodox belief.
Today, many organizations publish their articles of faith on their website under "About" and many times have the articles organized topically such as statements regarding their beliefs about God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, humanity, sin, salvation, the church, etc. Reviewing these statements is a quick way to evaluate whether the organization lines up with the essential beliefs of Christianity.
To summarize an entire belief system in an easy to remember list or statement is helpful to be able to evaluate ideas. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to "test everything; hold fast what is good." Articles of faith can help give us a solid framework to be able to know what is a biblical belief regarding certain matters.
How do we know if a doctrine is really biblical?
Why is sound doctrine so crucial?
Are Christians supposed to defend the faith?
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What was the Council of Nicea?
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